CMJ Music Marathon Highlights


Wednesday 11.1

‘Carpark & Paw Tracks Records CMJ Showcase’: Beach House+First Nation+Wzt Hearts

Plenty of woozy, childlike gargling on offer at this friends-of–Animal Collective showcase, but the big draw should be the sleepy, soft-focus dreampop of Baltimore duo Beach House. Headliners First Nation specialize in a brand of barely-there postpunk that nods toward prettiness but never quite gets there. Electronic improv types Wzt Hearts have lately been spiking their dense, formless wall of scuzz with tribal drums and flutters of trancey forest noises. With Over the Atlantic, Peppermints, and Lexie Mountain Boys. Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow, 212-253-0036, 8pm. BREIHAN

Steve Earle+Allison Moorer+Laura Cantrell

Man and wife Earle and Moorer might be the Sid and Nancy of roots music—Earle forever at war with the system, and Moorer holding back her demons for dear life. He produced her latest, to middling effect, but that aside, they’re both in creative primes. With Cantrell, a sweet-voiced country nostalgist whose recent Matador turn was a sonic misstep, but who can deliver a Carter Family–style tune just as well as Sara might have it, albeit with a more dulcet tone. Also: Tim Easton. Southpaw, 125 Fifth Ave, Bklyn, 718-230-0236, 8pm, $20. CARAMANICA

Feathers+Paul Duncan+Slaraffenland

Vermont’s Feathers are one of the best (but lesser-sung) of the new-folk collectives; their awesome self-titled was released on Devendra’s Gnomon song. Catch ’em tonight as a unified entity, since more and more of their members are winding up on/in other projects—Bright Black Morning Light, Witch, Viking Moses, etc. Duncan is a crafty singer-songwriter splitting the diff between Tim Buckley and Iron & Wine. Denmark’s Slaraffenland splay open their indie rock with avant-jazz group horns (atonal and harmonious), electronica glitch, and warm and fuzzy guitars that build and crash like sheets of ice. Trash, 256 Grand St, Bklyn, 718-599-1000, 8pm. BOSLER

Ben Lee+Rooney

Last year’s rootsy Awake Is the New Sleep demonstrated that one-time Australian indie-pop wunderkind Lee has more to offer the world (or at least fans of Australian indie pop) than the youthful charm that attracted attention to his mid-’90s stuff, back when he was a precocious teenager with powerful pals. For instance: late-twenties charm. L.A.’s Rooney, young guys themselves, are finishing up their second album of glamtastic powerpop. With John Ralston. Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Pl, 212-777-6800, 7:30pm, $18–$20. WOOD

‘Mix Tape Riot Presents’: Pharaoh Monch+Jaguar Wright+Kudu

Label woes have prevented him from releasing an album for seven years, but Monch still spits tangled-up clumps of paranoid rap bravado like no one else. Lately, he’s formed an unexpectedly symbiotic relationship with P. Diddy, writing the best lyrics Diddy’s ever mumbled. With the Roots-affiliated soul woman Jaguar Wright and the downtown boho-boutique r&b unit Kudu. With Monster Maker, Sway Dasafo, and King Reign. Canal Room, 285 W Bway, 212-941-8100, 10:30pm, $8. BREIHAN

‘Panache & Blueghost & Lovepump CMJ Showcase’: The Slits+Genghis Tron+the Apes

The big news here is the reunion of apocalyptically dub-screechy postpunk grande dames the Slits, kicking off their first U.S. tour in 25 years. If a recent EP is any indication, their teeth are still sharp. But this night offers two floors of scratchy violence. Best bets: the jittery, complex spazzcore of the excellently named Genghis Tron and the terrifying Sabbath growls of the Apes. With Made in Mexico, Dynasty Handbag, Green Milk From the Planet Orange, Shellshag, Rah Bras, and the Mall. Knitting Factory Tap Bar, 74 Leonard, 212-219-3006, 8pm, $12. BREIHAN

Tapes ‘n Tapes+Cold War Kids+Dr. Dog

Tapes ‘n Tapes are one of the best of the new crop of American dance-rockers—their injection of loungey (almost Balkan-like) grooves rubs against the postpunky rumbles and really set them apart. L.A.’s mega-hyped Cold War Kids take opiate-soaked Britpop and flash-fry it in a little alt-country batter—but not so much as to stop the steady rhythmic clip. Dr. Dog are beloved by bloggers for their ramshackle quirky tunes, me know nots why. Also: Elvis Perkins, Robbers on High Street. Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey, 212-533-2111, 8pm, $16. BOSLER

Thursday 11.2

‘Dangerbird Records’: Silversun Pickups+La Rocca+Darker My Love

This label showcase for Dangerbird Records could be one of the dark horses of CMJ. The Cali-based label scored this year with ’90s alt-rock throwback group Silversun Pickups. Part shoegaze, part grunge, they’re not entirely unlike the Smashing Pumpkins, to which they’ve been compared. But lookout for La Rocca: The fourpiece gets to the point cooking up zippy Strokes-like grooves, and the frontman actually seems happy to be there. Darker My Love will set the mood with a stylish, somnambulistic dirge or two. With Peter Walker. Pianos, 158 Ludlow, 212-420-1466, 7:30pm. O’DONNELL

‘Solid PR Showcase’: Blue Cheer+An Albatross+Jacob’s Ladder

New and old strains of riotous rock go toe-to-toe tonight. Blue Cheer—the ’60s-born, bell-bottomed, freak-flag-flyin’, LSD-monikered dinosaur-metal seniors—will unleash their psychedelic bluesy vamps right after Philly’s An Albatross, the quintessential neo-extremo screamo freakout outfit, have burnt down the stage. Call these large waterfowl “grind-dance”—grindcore in the hands of a new wave dance troupe. With Jacob’s Ladder, who sound like Tool and Slipknot. Knitting Factory Main Space, 74 Leonard, 212-219-3006, 8pm, $13–$15. BOSLER

‘Sub Pop Records Showcase’: The Shins+the Thermals+CSS+Oxford Collapse

The Shins’ new record leaked late last month, so expect their scarily devoted fans to sing along with stuff from next year’s Wincing the Night Away, which is as solid as a casually devoted fan could hope. Portland’s Thermals recently released their third album of scrappy pop-punk anthems. CSS, Sub Pop’s sole Brazilian signing, make catchy, horny bleep-rock for legwarmer wearers and the men who objectify them. Oxford Collapse’s new Sub Pop debut reveals no decrease in angular guitar fuzz. With the Album Leaf; the Elected; and Lonely, Dear. Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey, 212-533-2111, 8pm, $16. WOOD

‘Vice & Hydrahead Records Showcase’: Favourite Sons+120 Days+Stephen Brodsky’s Octave Museum+Khylst

Favourite Sons comprise members from two great unsung bands—Philly avant-pop group Aspera and Irish art-rockers Rollerskate Skinny. Their killer Down Beside Your Beauty is bursting with Iggy/Lou Reed–flavored full-bodied nuggets. 120 Days drone on down Kraftwerk’s autobahn—though they’re Norwegian—in a tricked-out vintage keyboard-powered roadster that leaves the atmosphere once the anti-gravity swooshy buttons get hit. Also: Black Lips, Panthers. With Hydrahead’s Brodsky (the mastermind behind Cave-In, doing spacey, fuzzy, indie-rock jams like Mars Volta covering Elliott Smith) and Khylst, James Plotkin’s newest exercise in extreme terror. Sin-é, 148 Attorney, 212-388-0077, 8pm, $10. BOSLER

The Walkmen+the Wrens+Frida Hyvönen

The big-city slickers on this bill are the few (possibly only) CMJ bands getting to play the fancy sit-down Skirball theater: a perfect setting for the Walkmen (ex–Jonathan Fire Eater) and their gritty U2-like blue-colored pop. Shout for some tunes from their brand-new Pussy Cats, a complete re-creation of the Harry Nilsson–John Lennon esoteric classic. With local cult indie-pop faves the Wrens and Swedish piano-pumpin’ popster Frida Hyvönen and her odd, almost old-timey tunes. Skirball Center, 566 La Guardia Pl, 212-279-4200, 9pm. BOSLER

‘Windish Agency CMJ Showcase’: Lavender Diamond+Death Vessel+Findlay Brown

L.A.’s Lavender Diamond play sunny, female-fronted piano-guitar-tambourine-sometimes-strings chamber-folk ditties that urge you to sing along but are surprisingly lacking in saccharine. Death Vessel’s a dude you swear is a girl—think Joanna Newsom—doing a creeky front-porch Appalachian warble, and much like Newsom’s, his songs are catchy and crafty as heck. He just signed with Sub Pop. London’s Findlay Brown play folky country-rock with a strong love for Americana—love their cheery “Losing the WiIl to Live” single. Also: the Pinkertones, Earlimart, Fink. Northsix, 66 N 6th St, Bklyn, 718-599-5103, 8pm, $12. BOSLER

‘Yep Rock Records Showcase’: The Apples in Stereo+Cities+Heavy Trash+American Princes

They haven’t released an album since 2002, but Apples in Stereo, the flagship band of the Elephant 6 psychpop collective, are back; in February they’ll release a new studio disc with help from Elijah Wood. Random! Chapel Hill’s Cities do well by their state’s long emo-math tradition. Heavy Trash is one of Jon Spencer’s post–Blues Explosion projects. American Princes, from Arkansas, play jittery, Replacements-style rock. Pianos, 158 Ludlow, 212-420-1466, 2pm. WOOD

Friday 11.3

The Black Keys+Black Angels

Of all the possible combinations of “Black”-titled bands to share a bill, this one is ace. On their fourth album, the just-released Magic Potion, Ohio guitar-and-drums duo the Black Keys have perfected their minimal Zep-inspired blues. But only sometimes does shit get as hair-raising as Robert Plant’s caterwaul. Guitar rockers the Black Angels, on the other hand, are content to just drone. Charles Manson and Vietnam vets would vibe their supremely murky, but hooky, late-’60s-inspired wall of sound. Nokia Theatre Times Square, 1515 Bway, 212-930-1950, 9pm, $25. O’DONNELL

The Decemberists

Will the Decemberists’ fine new major-label debut snare Hinder fans in its expansive lit-rock web? Unlikely. Will it assure the band’s core constituency that frontman Colin Meloy doesn’t care about Hinder fans but is only concerned with securing enough cash to pay the musette player? Undoubtedly. With former Appendix Out guy Alasdair Roberts. Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 W 34th, 212-485-1534, 6:30pm, $30. Wood

‘French Kiss Records CMJ Showcase’: Thunderbirds Are Now+Big Sleep+Plastic Constellations

French Kiss’s big gun on this bill is TAN, boasting big, fuzzy post-rock guitars that get air thanks to dancey grooves and nerdily sung hooks. Big Sleep are locals who’ve just released the much loved shoegaze gem Son of the Tiger, loaded with swirly hypno-inducing keyboard and guitar elixirs, chunky cruising-with-the top-down drums, and (very infrequent) whispery vocals. Minneapolis’s Plastic Constellations play some serpentine and rockin’, dual-guitarin’, Dischord-lovin’ grown-up emo. Also: Fatal Flying Guillotines, Rahim, Call Me Lightning. Pianos, 158 Ludlow, 212-420-1466, 8pm. BOSLER

‘Jade Tree CMJ Showcase’: These Arms Are Snakes+Fucked Up+Snowden+Young Widows

These Arms Are Snakes hurl Chinese throwing stars that clip Unwound/Blonde Redhead art-rock and Q & Not U pop-core—their bassist logged time in the mighty (and mighty copied) Botch. Toronto’s Fucked Up are Jade Tree’s straight-ahead punk rock crew (Fear meets the Bronx) with a big bald bruiser frontman named Pink Eyes. Fans of mopey dance-rock will dig Snowden’s pumpin’ fuzz bass and dancey tribal drums. Young Widows (the reformed Breather Resist) unrepentantly flaunt a Jesus Lizard jones. Also: David Bazan, Micah P. Hinson, Panda & Angel. Northsix, 66 N 6th St, Bklyn, 718-599-5103, 8pm, $15. BOSLER

‘Jagjaguwar CMJ Showcase’: Parts & Labor+Home+Oakley Hall

Local boys Parts and Labor play the city’s most succulent emo, though they are even now sending a copy of Sonic Youth’s Sister to my house for saying it—this year’s Stay Afraid paired avant-drumming with arena-worthy melodies. Their label mates Home, in a distinctly not-emo gesture, have apparently just written 20 different songs about fucking; Brooklyn bros Oakley Hall cleanse the palate with a more innocent and charming brand of country-rock for city dwellers. Also: Alex Delivery, Dirty Faces. Tonic, 107 Norfolk, 212-358-7501, 7:30pm. BARON

‘Kill Rock Stars CMJ Showcase’ Deerhoof +Erase Errata+Mary Timony+Excepter

With Deerhoof’s recent, rifftastic weirdo phantasmagoria The Runners Four, the crits finally caught up to this West Coast quartet. A new album—honed by a three-piece, and yes, they still rock despite being one man down—drops next year. Erase Errata’s unruly disco art-punk brings box cutters and spin kicks to the party. After Mary T lost the key to her magical fantasy kingdom—where the proggy Eddie Van Halen–tapped guitar took front-row honors at the unicorn parades—her newer stuff is more streamlined and Helium-like, but sadly less interesting. With electro-noise bombardiers Excepter, now toying with bouncy beats and the faint outlines of song structures. Hiro Ballroom at the Maritime Hotel, 371 W 17th, 4pm, $22. BOSLER

‘Merge Records Showcase’: White Whale+Portastatic

Compared to Merge label mates like Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire, White Whale create somewhat high-concept, proggy guitar-based tunes that have more gusto than NMH or AF even though they love old-timey themes like trolling the high seas. Simply put, they don’t sound like wimps. Since putting Superchunk on hold, Merge founder Mac McCaughan now tends to Portastatic. His well-executed indie pop has more politesse than his former band and is nostalgic for the golden years of college rock. With Richard Buckner and Broken West. Knitting Factory Main Space, 74 Leonard, 212-219-3006, 7:30pm, $10. O’DONNELL

Tokyo Police Club+Cloud Cult+Longwave

TPC may be latecomers to the dance-rock postpunk explosion, but their smeared-lipstick, sweaty-headband disco-fied jams are tight and catchy. The environmentally conscious Cloud Cult ooze whimsical indie rock like Modest Mouse on lithium. Longwave’s slick, spacey Britpop works more as moods than songs. With solo Stroke Albert Hammond Jr., Land of Talk, the Drones, and Cadence Weapon. Mercury Lounge, 217 E Houston, 212-260-4700, 7pm, $12. BOSLER

Saturday 11.4

French Kicks+Bobby Bare Jr.

The cover of the latest by Brooklyn’s French Kicks depicts with fruit a weird visual metaphor for female private parts; it’s not an indicator of the band’s classy blue-eyed soul-rock. The Tyde, from L.A., play tuneful, jangly retro-pop. Alt-country scion Bobby Bare Jr. recorded his understandably scrappy new album in 11 hours with help from guys in My Morning Jacket and the Trail of Dead. With Trick & the Heartstrings, the Mess Hall, Nethers, and the Bon Savants. Mercury Lounge, 217 E Houston, 212-260-4700, 7pm, $12. WOOD

The Grates+Mew+Annuals+Kevin Devine

Australia’s Grates are a trio with a spunky little Karen O–like frontwoman, a girl drummer, and a dude guitarist generating cutesy garagepop best exemplified on the single “19-20-20.” Denmark’s Mew take free-floating keyboards, deep-space echoes, and heady prog and kraut influences distilled down into modern pop medicine. Their vocalist has an incredibly high-pitched, Jon Anderson–like voice. Safe as your little cousin’s bar mitzvah are the sunny, syrupy songs from singer-songwriter Kevin Devine. With the super-dense and velvety layers of Annuals—highly individualized indie rock that’s just as epic as it is subtle. Also: Fields. Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey, 212-533-2111, 8pm, $16.BOSLER

Shooter Jennings+Watson Twins+Oakley Hall

Jennings is the name here, but hardly the talent, pedigree notwithstanding. The Watson Twins backed Jenny Lewis on her latest, but their haircut-folk requires no frontwoman to carry it (though they could stand to do more than just whisper). Best here is Oakley Hall’s mildly psychedelic (which is to say, inebriated) roots rock, a rebuke to indie bands scared of the heartland and red-staters who prefer country at Bud Ice potency. Also: Willy Mason, Deadstring Brothers, Matt Mays & El Torpedo. Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Pl, 212-777-6800, 7:30pm, $18. CARAMANICA

‘Narnack Records CMJ Showcase’: the Fall+the Ohsees+Iran

Given the countless seedy postpunk classics—not to mention the last few albums (the masterful Real New Fall LP and damned good Fall Heads Roll)—when these dudes and a lady are on, they are on! Unstoppable. And when they ain’t, you still have the pugnacious and curiously still living godfather of band trainwrecks, Mark E. Smith, to watch. The Ohsees are the new effervescent folky pop project from John Dwyer of the Coachwhips. Iran are a new indie-rock project featuring TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone. With Yikes and Women & Children. Hiro Ballroom at the Maritime Hotel, 371 W 17th, 6pm, $22. BOSLER